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Social class and party choice in Northern Ireland’s ethnic blocs

By JA Evans and J Tonge


The peace process in Northern Ireland has not diminished the acute ethnic electoral faultline between the majority Protestant-British population, supportive of parties favouring Northern Ireland’s continuing place in the United Kingdom and the minority Catholic-Nationalist population, which backs parties harbouring long-term ambitions for a united Ireland. Within each bloc, however, there has been a dramatic realignment in favour of parties once seen as extreme and militant. The Democratic Unionist Party has emerged as the main representative of the Protestant-British population, whilst Sinn Fein, having for many years supported the Provisional IRA’s ‘armed struggle’ against British rule, has become the dominant party amongst Catholic Nationalists. As both parties have entered the political mainstream and advanced electorally, to what extent have they moved from their electoral near-confinement among the working-class to enjoy broader cross-class support – and how

Topics: JA, other
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Year: 2009
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